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Boston Celtics crush Cleveland Cavaliers 120-95 in Game 1 of East semifinals

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — The Boston Celtics continued to put on a show in the NBA Playoffs, dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-95 in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Star wing Jaylen Brown scored 32 points in front of the home crowd at the TD Garden as the No. 1 seed Celtics showed why they are considered a favorite to win it all this season.

Boston finished with an NBA-best 64-18 regular season record to earn the top seed. A Game 2 upset defeat against the Miami Heat in the first round turned out to be a momentary blip as the C’s cruised past last year’s runner-up in five games, and rarely looked like they were troubled against the Cavs on Tuesday.

Brown – who signed the richest contract in NBA history this past offseason – shot efficiently from the floor, making 12 of his 18 field goal attempts and knocking down four three-pointers.

“I had it rolling tonight, but each and every game presents different challenges,” Brown said after the game. “I’m excited for Game 2. Going to come out with the same mentality, but you gotta see how they might guard, might cover you. You just wanna come out and make the right plays, the right reads – that’s all it is.”

Brown’s teammate Derrick White credited Brown for creating opportunities for the rest of the Celtics squad as the Cleveland defense was forced to devote more attention to the All-Star. White finished with 25 points and made seven triples, while Payton Pritchard added 16 points off the bench.

In a testament to Boston’s depth and scoring talent, it was able to ease to the comfortable win despite missing big man Kristaps Porziņģis due to injury and superstar forward Jayson Tatum shooting 36.8% from the field and being held to 18 points. Despite the unusually subdued scoring night, Tatum still found ways to contribute, chipping in with 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

It was a disappointing start to the series for the Cavaliers after going through an intense battle in the first round. The No. 4 seed is a fresh off a hard-fought seven-game series against the Orlando Magic that only concluded on Sunday – in contrast, the Celtics were playing for the first time since last Wednesday.

The Cavs were led by All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, who posted 33 points, six rebounds and five assists while Evan Mobley and Darius Garland added 17 points and 14 points respectively. Starting center Jarrett Allen missed his fourth consecutive game with injury.

Mitchell talked about the need to improve on defense to contain Boston’s stars and spoke highly of Brown after the game.

“Jaylen Brown’s an All-NBA player, he makes $300 million for a reason,” he said postgame.

Game 2 tips off on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.

OKC Thunder rumbles past Mavericks in Game 1

Over in the Western Conference, there was another blowout victory as the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder took down the Dallas Mavericks 117-95 at home.

OKC was one of the regular season’s unexpected storylines, with the young team appearing to be ahead of schedule as it earned the No. 1 spot in a loaded conference and sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round.

The Thunder are spearheaded by MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Canadian flirted with a triple-double on Tuesday, recording 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to go along with two blocks and a steal.

Rookie Chet Holmgren scored 19 points and Jalen Williams added 18, but perhaps the biggest success story of the night for the Thunder was the way they were able to frustrate Dallas guard Luka Dončić on the defensive end.

The Slovenian superstar was restricted to 19 points on 31.6% shooting and only connected on one of his eight three-point attempts as Lu Dort chased him on the perimeter and Holmgren provided problems in the paint.

“He’s just a warrior,” OKC coach Mark Daigneault said of Dort postgame. “Brings the juice every single night. Dončić is a really hard matchup and a great player that didn’t have his best pitch tonight. He’s going to play better than this. Lu made it hard on him. I thought our team made it hard on him.”

Kyrie Irving led the Mavs in scoring with 20 points on a night that the Dallas squad will want to swiftly put in the rear view mirror.

“Who cares?” Dončić said when asked about his shooting. “We lost. We just got to move onto the next one. We’ve got to be better.”

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